1.1. A History of a Name
When the organizers of this symposium asked if I could talk on history, it was not clear if they hoped for a history of HST or a scientific history of why the telescope has been named for Hubble. There is a history to both subjects.
In the early days of planning, when the telescope was a three meter dream, it was initially called the LOT for Large Orbiting Telescope. This brought forth several objections because a cadre of adventurous astronomers had urged a site on the moon. The word "orbiting" was said to block such a plan. Consequently, the name was changed in the late 1960s to LST for Large Space Telescope.
That name was still used as late as 1974 in all the planning and in the several major symposia held in a first lobbying effort, both by industry and by the scientists, to sell the telescope. One such important symposium was held in Washington at the Sheraton-Park Hotel from January 30 to February 1, 1974. The meeting was organized by F. Peter Simmons who had become Project Manager for LST at the McDonald-Douglas Astronautics Company after his earlier role at the Grumman Aerospace Corporation as Director of Astronomy for the highly successful Orbiting Astronomical Observatories (OAO). Simmons was later to play an even larger role in coordinating and organizing a major lobbying response, both in Congressional committees and in industry in the mid 1970s, to gain support for Lyman Spitzer's (1946) early suggestion for a space telescope.
It was at the 1974 Washington symposium where much of the science and the necessary technology for the project was first publicly laid out in awesome detail. Many of the future stars of the enormously complicated project, both astronomers and engineers, spoke. The names of the industry affiliations from which the technical scientists and engineers came included Ball Brothers, Bendix, Boeing, Convair, General Dynamics, Grumman, Itek, Lockheed, Martin Marietta, McDonnell-Douglas, Perkin-Elmer, and TRW, showing the wide industry interest in the project. Representatives from NASA Headquarters and from Goddard and Marshall were also there.
Among the astronomers were Lyman Spitzer (in absentia, see Spitzer 1997), Robert O'Dell (LST project scientist), Nancy Roman (chief, astronomy/relativity, NASA), Laurence Fredrick, Margaret Burbidge, Robert Danielson, Ivan King, John Bahcall, George Herbig, Gerry Neugebauer, and Harlan Smith.
John Naugle, Associate Administrator for Space Science, NASA headquarters, gave the sobering epilogue where he outlined the major hurdles to be conquered as seen in 1974. Among the many important cautions he gave, one of the most central was: "From what you have heard over the past few days, it is quite clear that we are smart enough technically to build the Large Space Telescope now." [However] "scientists must recognize that where they are dependent upon public support for their endeavors, they must communicate the importance of their endeavors to the public - the knowledge they have gained and its importance. This enables the public to participate, in many cases vicariously, in these activities. If scientists devote perhaps one-tenth of the creative energy devoted to understanding the universe to explaining to the public the reasons for and the importance of what they are doing, then I think the problems that we have in obtaining support for basic research will disappear."
One of the grand purposes of the present workshop is to do just that.
For various reasons, mostly to do with the arcane art of political persuasion, the name of the telescope was again changed simply to ST when the aperture was reduced to 2.4 meters in the late 1970s. The rationale given was that the word "large" was too strong, suggesting not only an ultimate instrument but also an ultimate price, thereby possibly jeopardizing a future really big space telescope. However, the change of name was again opposed by those who argued that LST was the appropriate name, standing as it did for the Lyman Spitzer Telescope. The dream might not have become reality without Spitzer's vision, and of course, also not without the near ineffable genius of the engineers and scientists and the remarkable ability of industry. This symposium is for all of you who have made it possible for us.